Tuesday, November 17, 2015

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 18/11/2015


Star Wars: Battlefront sequels will strike back
Star Wars: Battlefront sequels will strike back
With The Force Awakens' imminent arrival sending everyone Star Wars mad, it almost goes without saying that EA plans to follow up Star Wars: Battlefront with another expedition to a galaxy far far away.
Speaking at the UBS Global Tech Conference today, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen revealed that EA has grand plans to make the most of its licensing agreement with Disney, including but not limited to Battlefront sequels.
"It's a big effort for us, and I don't think there's a human being in the world who hasn't heard of the Star Wars movie coming," he said, speaking to Gamespot.
"We struck a licensing deal with Disney a few years back that's almost ten years in length. The game that comes out tomorrow, Star Wars Battlefront, is a traditional first-person style shooter game. Our goal is to make future Battlefront games as well as other style games around the Star Wars franchise, both on mobile as well as console and PC. It's a huge opportunity for us."

Star Wars games go mobile

Star Wars fans can also expect to soon see mobile games rolling out – beware in-app purchases, that way lies the dark side – as well as a third-person title in the vein of Uncharted from former Naughty Dog writer Amy Hennig and EA's Visceral Games.
Maybe EA could follow that up with a brilliant Indiana Jones game. After all, Nathan Drake's just an Indy wannabe short the cool hat and Nazi-killing cred.
Star Wars: Battlefront releases later this week, and will put players in the boots of characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, as well as giving them the chance to pilot iconic ships like the Millennium Falcon, X-wings, and TIE fighters.

Read More ...

It's Business Time as Microsoft Launches Windows Store for Business in 21 countries
It's Business Time as Microsoft Launches Windows Store for Business in 21 countries
Good news for IT professionals who were excited by the news back in April that Microsoft was launching a dedicated Windows Store front for Business – as of today, the Windows Store for Business is open in 21 markets around the world.
Now, IT managers in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US can sign up their business via the Store's official website.
Doing so will allow business decision makers to "acquire, manage and distribute Windows Store apps" easily across an entire organisation.

Easy distribution

The key advantage here for IT managers is the ability to easily curate, purchase and distribute applications to businesses of any size, including the ability to purchase multiple licenses of a single app in one transaction.
There are also three separate distribution methods, giving IT managers versatility in delivering the apps. They can directly assign apps to individuals or teams; use a private store page for employees to find and download on demand, or use a third-party management solution.
Companies with unique security needs may also want to take advantage of the new offline licensing mode, that allows apps to be installed on unconnected devices, without using Microsoft's online licensing system.
To sign up for the new Windows Store for Business, IT managers can point their browsers at the official store.

Read More ...

buying guide: Best streaming video boxes: the top 5 living room media players reviewed
buying guide: Best streaming video boxes: the top 5 living room media players reviewed

Introduction and picks #4 and 5

Update: A new year, a new class of streaming video boxes. While you may remember last year's top two first-place picks, we promise not to cheat you out of a victor this year. And with a half-dozen new entries, from the new Apple TV to the second iteration of the Chromecast, there was plenty of plastic to wade through.
If you're only here because you want to cut the cord and stop the rich, monopolistic cable overlords from siphoning your hard-earned dollars every month, I only have one thing to say to you: You've come to the right place.
Look, we believe that paying for great TV shows and movies shouldn't cost more than your groceries, and that there's no better way to save some green every month than ripping that money-sucking cord out of the wall and delivering that long-winded "you're fired" speech to the cable company.
We're here to help you make that next buying decision the best one possible by ranking the five best set-top boxes from worst-to-best and, in very clear writing, tell you which one will feel right at home in your home entertainment center.
So how did we narrow down the field? We looked at the amount of content available on the system - not only the number of apps available, but the quality, too - as well as its feature-set, usability and potential to grow in the coming year.
From the insanely powerful 4K-ready Roku 4 to the recently released app-heavy Apple TV, all the players have come out for the final showdown, but only one can leave with the crown.
Best streaming video box

5. Apple TV (Fourth Generation, 2015)

Coming in at the end of the list is the beautiful, but ultimately barren, Apple TV. The latest iteration of Steve Jobs' passion project has made plenty of steps in the right direction by opening the Apple TV App Store to all developers instead of a select few, and have quite improved the old remote with a slick, new, Siri-enabled masterpiece. There's now universal search that allows you to search multiple sources like Netflix, YouTube and more with a single inquiry and an intelligent search algorithm that can parse even the most language-dense requests. Want to see which action films star Chris Pine or great '90s films for kids? All you need to do is ask. Add to that a pretty impressive ability to mirror your screen on iOS and you have all the makings of a 2017 winner.
We say 2017 because Apple's box isn't ready for the prime time spot: Siri, while really knowledgeable about movies, doesn't have that same intelligence about music, games or anything else really. And while it's great to see some big name content providers on an Apple system for the first time, there's just no chance of Amazon allowing a native version of Prime Instant Video on the player. The system we see today is in its adolescence. It could be the next iPhone, but right now it's like an iWatch - a cool, incomplete idea for a new product.

Quick verdict

Overall, buying an Apple TV feels like you're agreeing with and reinforcing Apple's desire to charge you at every possible turn. It's one paywall after another, and unless you're already bought into that mentality, it can be a tough pill to swallow.
If you're entrenched in the Apple ecosystem (you buy movies and shows from iTunes, subscribe to Apple Music and/or stick to phones and tablets running iOS), then the Apple TV will be a supremely good addition to your living room that will only improve with age. On the other hand, if you're looking for a fully functional system that already has one of the best voice search algorithms, a fully stocked streaming app library and 4K-ready hardware, you might want to consider something else.
Best streaming video box

4. Amazon Fire TV (Second generation, 2015)

There's a soft-spot in our hearts for the Amazon Fire TV - a set-top player from the e-commerce giant that single-handedly thrust the concept of cord cutting into the limelight.
It scores full points for having some of the best internal components this side of a game console (which, we'd be remiss if we didn't tell you that both the PS4 and Xbox One make for fantastic streamers, too), and plays very nicely with everything sporting the name Amazon in the title.
The Fire TV is snappy, fun and probably the best bet if all you want from your system is content from Amazon Instant Video. It has more games and apps than you can shake a Fire TV Stick at, but most of them aren't worth the five to ten seconds it takes to download. And worse, while it works wonderfully with an Amazon Prime account, take it away and you're left with a lifeless plastic shell that can access Netflix and peruse the endlessly expensive Amazon Video Store.

Quick verdict

The new Amazon Fire TV is the perfect Ultra HD box for Amazon Prime faithful without the smarts in their 4K TV; however for anyone else it's merely an okay streamer. It's slick and responsive, but the Amazon bias means you won't get the most from the box without Prime.

Our top 3 picks

Best streaming video box

3. Nvidia Shield Android TV (2015)

If you want to your streaming video player to dabble in gaming, there is no better option than the Nvidia Shield that sports Android TV. What we liked about it is that it turns out powerful video game-ready internals also make for a pretty smooth streaming experience, especially considering that the Shield is one of only a few players on the market that can process 4K video. What really seals the deal, though, is that instead of a remote, the Shield comes with a controller that syncs up effortlessly and can play any number of Android TV or PC-quality streaming titles from GeForce Now, Nvidia's game-streaming service.
The only downsides on this one is that it's more expensive than the competition - $175 (£150) - and Android TV feels a bit on the stagnant side compared to other platforms.

Quick verdict

The Shield is one part set-top box and two parts gaming system. The latter is better and more functional than the former, but even the former is not without its benefits. There's a lot of potential in the Shield, thanks to its killer specs. But until Google gets Android TV's act together by curbing its urge to push first-party content and working with developers to create more native apps, it will stay in the bullpen.
Best streaming video player

2. Chromecast (Second generation, 2015)

Too often, there's a discrepancy between a product's price (what it costs) and its value (how much it's really worth). Thankfully, Chromecast isn't one of those products: it's worth every penny.
Coming in $35 (£30, AU$49), the petite, USB-powered Chromecast offers all of the functionality of boxes three times its size at a quarter of the price. It completely outshines its closest - the Roku Streaming Stick and the Amazon Fire TV Stick - and is ultimately the best bang for your buck. Plus, if you're an Android user, you'll even be able to mirror your screen via the built-in cast functionality.
The product's biggest weak spot is that it requires you to sit next to your phone, tablet or PC at all times. The Chromecast, like an obedient cyber pooch, will just sit there and wait for you to tell it what to do and lacks any user interface of its own. And while most apps come with Google Cast built-in, some will have to come through a web browser with mixed results.

Quick verdict

The new Chromecast isn't perfect. But it's as close as it might ever be. Major improvements, like the new 802.11ac internal Wi-Fi antenna, and recent app additions, like HBO Now, Spotify and Showtime Anytime, feel like they add a new level of depth to a deceivingly deep product. The new wireless antenna is nothing short of astounding, creating a near seamless streaming environment with less lag and less buffering time than almost anything – even full size set-top boxes – on the market.
And at an insanely low price point, it's tough to pass up. Google did a great job pricing and positioning the Chromecast as the easiest and cheapest way to get apps like Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and Pandora into your living room without breaking the bank.
The other obvious downside is that the Chromecast doesn't include a remote. It's a tough fix, especially at this price point. But the option to use a good ol' fashioned IR blaster would've been appreciated, even if it seems like overkill to the majority of tech-savvy streaming video fans. A few more apps, including more support for games, would be appreciated, too.
Best video streaming box

1. Roku 4 (2015)

When it comes to channels, more is always better. Sure, I may never watch a spaghetti western on the Six Gun Cinema channel, but it's great that Roku gives me that option. And if the niche movies aren't your scene, you'll find every major player here as well - Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Instant, Google Play Movies & TV, Hulu, Sky News, ESPN, MLB.TV, Spotify, Pandora...the list goes on and on. But, best of all, you're not limited to one ecosphere: Roku is the agnostic Switzerland of streaming sets. It doesn't care whether you download a video from Amazon, Google Play Movies & TV, or spend your money somewhere else, all it wants to do is get you the content you want to watch.
We're not saying the Roku 4 is perfect - it has some sections of its interface that push a streaming video platform called M-Go, and the extra hardware gives it a noticeable heat and noise problem the Roku 3 didn't have. But between the almost ludicrous amount of content available out of the box and the subtle tweaks like a remote with a built-in audio jack for private listening, the Roku 4 is the epitome of the cord-cutting movement and everything the competition should strive to beat.

Quick verdict

If your current streaming situation fits the bill, the Roku 4 is easily the best home entertainment investment you can make in 2015. The device caters to a modern, must-own-everything-immediately crowd that already owns a 4K TV set and comes with a price tag that's slightly higher than other products in the category. That said, you get what you pay for – a high-end, quad-core ARM processor doesn't come cheap.
More than anything else though, the Roku 4 cemented my love for Roku's operating system that does its best to put the consumer ahead of the business. It's not flawless in its attempt (the M-Go TV and Movie store on the home screen are evidence of that). But, the universal search function that scans 20 different sources for content in every inquiry shows that Roku wants to put your streaming needs ahead of a bottom line.
Roku has become one of the rallying cries of the cord-cutting movement, and the fourth iteration of the streaming box doesn't shirk that responsibility.
If high-end specs aren't what you're looking for, and you have the patience for an aging system, save yourself some dough and pick up the video streaming-only Roku 2 or casual game-ready Roku 3 instead. If you want a top of the line player to match your top of the line TV, however, the Roku 4 is the unequivocal best choice in streaming boxes.
What's your favorite set-top box? Should Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV be the king of the castle or was Roku the way to go? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Read More ...

Life's good for Stan as streaming comes to LG Smart TVs
Life's good for Stan as streaming comes to LG Smart TVs
Having recently launched on Samsung Smart TVs, the Aussie streaming service Stan has added yet another manufacturer’s sets to its list of supported devices with the announcement that its app is now available on a wide range of LG WebOS televisions.
Stan now supports 2014 and 2015 model LG Smart TVs running WebOS 1.0 and WebOS 2.0 software.
And, if your 2014 model LG Smart TV is running Netcast 4.5 instead of WebOS, you only have to wait a little while longer, as support for those models is promised to arrive sometime this December.
Though only Samsung and LG Smart TVs have received native Stan apps so far, we expect more announcements from the streaming service regarding Smart TVs from other manufacturers in the near future.
You can find a complete list of Stan-compatible LG Smart TVs on Stan’s website.

Read More ...

Analysis: LG vs Panasonic: the best TVs in the world go head-to-head
Analysis: LG vs Panasonic: the best TVs in the world go head-to-head

The best TVs in the world go head-to-head

For years the frontier settlement of OLED-ville has been a one horse town. The futuristic TV technology has existed in LG isolation, with the Korean display giant pumping around $1.5Bn into R&D and manufacturing in order to make the glorious self-emissive OLED panel a reality.
And a great job LG has done in creating some of the most beautiful TV pictures we've ever seen.
But another player has just ridden into town, looking to take on LG's best OLED screens: Japanese home cinema brand Panasonic.
With the release of the new Panasonic TX-65CZ950 TV (which released last month as the TX-65CZ952 in the UK) there are now two key players at the top of the TV game fighting it out in the OLED corral.
The full low-down:
OLED showdown

What is OLED?

OLED is seen by the A/V enthusiasts as the true successor to the old plasma technology, so it makes sense for Panasonic's home cinema heritage to bring it into this advanced new market.
The reason for OLED's glorious images is because of its self-emissive nature. That means each and every pixel in the panel is capable of creating its own light and that in turn means there's no need for any backlighting to shine through from the back of your TV.
That has a number of effects. Primarily it means OLED panels have unrivalled levels of black reproduction, as individual pixels can effectively be turned completely off. It also makes for stunning levels of contrast as pixels sat side-by-side are unaffected by the light from the other.
And great contrast can make for great colors too. It's this range, from the deepest blacks to the most vibrant colors, which makes OLED a mighty impressive base for high-dynamic range (HDR) content too.
And without the need for a layer of LED backlighting behind the panel OLED TVs can be gloriously slim too.

Who has the best OLED tech?

First off it has to be said these televisions do not live in isolation from each other. At the heart of Panasonic's TX-65CZ950 is an LG-made OLED panel.
LG has spent the money on making OLED a viable platform for premium TVs and the entry price for this OLED option has dropped dramatically in the last couple of years. We expect to see 55-inch panels coming in under £2,000 (about $4,000 or AU$6,000) by the end of the year, which is pretty astounding progress.
OLED showdown
So it's now gotten to the stage where LG's happily licensing out its panel technology - as it has historically, being one of the biggest panel manufacturers in the world. Meanwhile Panasonic has got in there early to create its own new flagship TV.
Which does go some way to explain why there is such a huge price difference between the top two OLED panels. The Panasonic TX-65CZ950 is some £7,999 (approximately $11,150 or AU$16,130) while the LG 65EF9500 can be found for half that price, retailing at 'just' £4,000 ($5,000, AU$9,000).

So, why pay more for the same panel?

A panel alone does not make the TV.
Sure, Panasonic has taken the basic OLED technology from LG, but there is a lot more that goes into making a quality TV with as glorious a picture as the CZ950 series.
The picture processing is what adds all the contrast finesse and subtle nuances to an image and Panasonic maintains its new 4K Pro system is the proverbial 'daddy'. With the sort of lighting control tech only seen in studio mastering monitors it's the first OLED TV to pass the rigorous THX testing procedures to gain THX certification.
Panasonic's TV has also introduced its Absolute Black Drive too, which puts pay to one of LG's most frustrating issues with its OLED displays. It manages to produce fine control over light levels which are just a fraction above total black, something LG has struggled with in the past.

Operating system

LG's webOS 2.0 is widely regarded as the best TV operating system around. Mostly because it knows its job is to service a television first and foremost, not an overgrown tablet that Android TV wants to be.
The webOS interface on the LG 65EF9500 is clean and never gets in the way of using the TV and has the full complement of catch-up and streaming services too.
OLED showdown
Panasonic's use of Firefox OS has stood its own smart TVs in good stead, but curiously it has eschewed that software for its OLED flagship. That means the CZ950 series has a dearth of catch-up goodness to do and less in the way of smarts.
Panasonic maintains this is in order to preserve as much processing power as possible for all the imaging tech.


Both the LG and Panasonic screens are capable of displaying the glorious HDR future. LG's TVs are already capable of displaying the HDR 10 standard Amazon (and potentially Netflix next year) streams its existing HDR content with and is working with the BBC, helping it nail down its own Hybrid Log-Gamma standard for HDR broadcasting.
Panasonic though is still putting together an upcoming HDR firmware update to introduce the advanced picture technology to its flagship TV.
But the broad range capabilities of both the OLED panels will perfectly compliment high dynamic range content when there is more of it about.
OLED showdown

Aural expertise

When you make televisions ever slimmer, to make them light enough to stick a 65-inch screen on the wall, or just to make them more aesthetically-pleasing, then something's got to give.
And that something is the sound.
You can't put beefy speakers into a slimline TV chassis, but LG has worked hard - in cooperation with Harmon Kardon - to ensure the 65EF9500 has pretty decent sound. Certainly much more powerful than Panasonic's relatively thin-sounding speakers.
But realistically if you're dropping this much cash on a flagship TV then you're going to be spending some serious money on a separate sound system anyway. Which begs the question as to when TV manufacturers are likely to stop bothering putting speakers into their top-of-the-range models?
OLED showdown


How do these two top-end tellies compare physically then? Well, that depends on which side of the divide you stand on regarding the flat vs. curved debate.
If you can't stand the curve - and to be fair most AV enthusiasts aren't so enthused about the weird geometry and odd reflections you get with a bent panel - then your only option for a flatscreen OLED display is LG's gorgeous EF9500.
If anything the sheer scale of a 65-inch flat OLED is far more arresting than the curved alternative.
But Panasonic's CZ950 series wears its curvy panel well, with an effective screen filter which knocks down much of the off-axis reflection distortion.
Still, we'd rather have the Panasonic's glorious images on LG's flat panel any day.

Final reckoning

So, which is the best TV? If we're judging purely on picture quality then it's the incredible Panasonic TX-65CZ950; it produces simply the best images we've ever seen on a television.
The TV calibration, carried out by Hollywood colorist Mike Sowa, combined with the THX certification, makes this a key moment in the history of television tech.
But when LG's still jaw-droppingly good flatscreen 65EF9500 is half the price, the Panasonic is tough to justify.
Though in relative terms the LG OLED is the more affordable option, and is the implementation of the technology which is more likely to find its way into people's homes, the true AV enthusiast will always be dreaming of the stunning Panasonic CZ950 series.

Read More ...

Google Glass 2 may come in two models: with a screen and without
Google Glass 2 may come in two models: with a screen and without
Google is currently developing new Google Glass 2 options, and one of them may end up without the glass part of the wearable.
The reportedly revamped Project Aura has three new Glass models being developed, and one of them will come without the little screen that Google Glass gets it's name from, according to The Information.
Sources speaking to the publication say the glass-less Google Glass will be geared towards "sports" users, and will solely work on an audio basis.
And while that might have you thinking "why not just use headphones rather than something sitting on your face?" no further details about this screen-less Google Glass have been detailed. There's a chance we may not even be in for a glasses-like device at all.
The report also indicates one of the models will be geared toward the enterprise market, while all models still use bone conduction to help pick up audio, like the original Google Glass.
The report says Google may end up cutting the three new models down to just two before it relaunches the wearable.
Still, there has yet to be any official word from the search giant itself about Google Glass, so it might be best to take this with a grain of salt.

Read More ...

Rdio's bankruptcy is Pandora's gain
Rdio's bankruptcy is Pandora's gain
While Pandora's been cranking out the tunes for over 15 years, and has more monthly listeners than anyone but YouTube, it's always been something of a one trick pony, and not a particularly profitable one at that. Now it's looking to expand its music offering to include on demand streaming and live events.
Following Rdio's decision to file for bankruptcy, Pandora has announced that it will be acquiring "several key assets" from the floundering company.
On a call from executives to its investors, Pandora announced that its goal is now to become the world's biggest music platform.
The Rdio acquisition, which will cost Pandora US$75 million, will help in this regard, as Rdio's business model enables Pandora to expand and reboot its slowing user growth – Pandora currently only operates in the US, Australia and New Zealand, while Rdio is available in 100 countries.


Pandora will be taking on Rdio's technology and intellectual property, and claims that "many employees" from Rdio will be invited to make the transition. However, some of Rdio's staff will need to look for work elsewhere, including Rdio's CEO.
The acquisition could open up new opportunities to heal Pandora's soured relationships with record labels, which have made further international expansion difficult for the company – Pandora's royalty rates are set by governments, which has kept them low and annoyed many labels.
Pandora also recently acquired TicketFly, which it hopes will help make the company more profitable by enabling ticket sales to be offered to its 78 million monthly users.

Read More ...

Your 2015 word of the year isn't a word - it's an emoji
Your 2015 word of the year isn't a word - it's an emoji
To see your Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, just look up.
That's right: it's literally not a word. The folks at ODW picked a pictograph - what we commonly refer to as an emoji - as the word of 2015. You've probably seen this face in your text messages and chats, but you probably didn't know its name, Face with Tears of Joy emoji. You may also know it as the Laughing emoji, Laughing Crying emoji, Laughing Tears emoji, or, simply, the LOL emoji.
Though around since the late 90s', emojis (and the word "emoji") have seen an astounding increase in popularity this year alone.
Partnering with SwiftKey, Oxford University Press found that Face with Tears of Joy was the most popular emoji used globally in 2015. Twenty percent of all emojis sent in the UK this year were FWTOJ, up from 4% last year, and the US usage of the pictograph jumped from 9% to 17%.
You can't really argue with the effectiveness of emojis in conveying emotions, nor the universality of images over words. That said, it seems a littttllle bit of a stretch/grasp for relevancy to select an emoji as your word of the year, but maybe that's just us.
The Word of the Year 2015 shortlist included ad blocker, Brexit ("a term for the potential or hypothetical departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, from 'British' + 'exit'"), Dark Web, on fleek, lumbersexual, refugee, sharing economy and they. Oxford provided a rundown of why these words made the shortlist.

Read More ...

Updated: Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers, news and rumours
Updated: Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers, news and rumours

The Force Awakens - Trailers and teasers

Update: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is coming to Dolby Cinemas, the audio developer announced today, making the film the sixteenth film to receive Dolby Atmos sound mixing and Dolby Vision aesthetics in theaters. Here's a list of Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime locations where you can watch the film on December 17 and 18.
Falcon through the forest
A brand new trailer for The Force Awakens has also surfaced - an international cut which includes a bunch of previously unseen footage. Almost the whole gang get a look in this time - Finn, Rey, Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO and Han Solo - but still no Luke Skywalker. Check it out below.
YouTube : www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdAUiyeJMFQ
There's less than two months to go until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Just a matter of days now really.
And we couldn't be any more excited unless we'd discovered our own latent Force powers.
We've been mercilessly teased for the last year, since the very first few seconds of footage dropped on an excited interweb, but this week we finally got a proper trailer, full of all kinds of glorious Star Wars-y goodness.
You've probably already watched it a good few times. We have - at least half of the 30-odd million views were from Techradar Towers - but, here it is because you really can't get too much of a good thing.

The official trailer

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGbxmsDFVnE
If that didn't get you excited for the new Star Wars trilogy then you've either got Bantha milk for blood or the stoney heart of a Gundark.
Pre-order tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens went on sale the same day the trailer dropped and Fandango - a popular US service for movie ticket purchases - almost immediately crashed due to demand. In the UK though the Odeon Cinema ticket site actually did crash, the Force not quite being strong enough with its servers.

When's it out?

It's going to be one hell of a festive period for Star Wars fans and those in the UK will get The Force Awakens on the same day as the Australians, a day ahead of the North American unveiling.
UK and Australia - December 17
North America - December 18

The official poster

The Force Awakens official poster
Along with a full Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer Lucasfilm has also revealed the official poster. It's rocking the classic Star Wars poster aesthetic.
On the poster you can find Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron, Rey, Finn, the loveable BB-8, Captain Phasma, and Maz Kanataand, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO.
And is that a small moon in the background? That's no moon...
Strangely enough, Luke Skywalker appears to be missing, as he is from the trailer, but we'll put that down to JJ Abrams' usual 'Mystery Box' shenanigans.
It's a strong image, putting Daisy Ridley's dynamic character, Rey, front and centre. She's also the subject of AMC's special edition poster prints, designed by British illustrator Dan Mumford.
Every Sunday, between release and January 10 2016 you can pick up one of the special posters at an IMAX 3D showing.

The first teaser trailer

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erLk59H86ww
The first teaser tipped up almost a year ago now, and was our first glimpse at what director, J J Abrams, had envisioned for his time at the helm of one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises since...well...Star Trek.
It also showed us our first glimpses of our new heroes, former Stormtrooper Finn and salvager/junk-collector Rey. As well as the new bot, BB-8, which could end up being a rather polarising piece of cutesy electronics. Almost as polarising as Kylo Ren's lightsaber guards...
But we got to see X-Wings and TIE fighters, but most importantly the Millennium Falcon accompanied by that stirring John Williams score.

The second teaser trailer

YouTube : www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngElkyQ6Rhs
The second teaser was shown during the opening panel at Anaheim, giving us our best look yet at the movie.
The opening shot sets the scene perfectly, panning across a deserted landscape to see a crashed X-Wing buried in the sand. Then the mountain in the distance resolves and you see it's actually a downed Star Destroyer.
Chills? Hells yeah.
We also got a voice-over from Luke, all mysterious and echoing a speech from Return of the Jedi, and we also got to see Han and Chewbacca together again.
Streamed to 35 theaters across 23 countries, including London's historic Empire Leicester Square and five other IMAX locations, the opening event saw Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and other members of the cast reunited on stage.

The international teaser

YouTube : www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-VTdsCKLgg
Popping up on the Korean YouTube channel came a re-jigged teaser featuring much of the footage we'd already seen in a different order, but with our first view of the scale of the First Order.

Behind the scenes teaser

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTNJ51ghzdY
A behind-the-scenes clip that shows the making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered at San Diego Comic-Con 2015. The almost-four-minute long reel is a treat for any Star Wars fan.
There are elaborate sets and costumes, explosions, snippets with the actors, and shots of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford as Leia and Han.
Mark Hamill and Simon Pegg chat about the film, too, and there's ample footage of director JJ Abrams and crew on set.
That's your lot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens video goodness, so now it's a countdown to December 17.
Art of Star Wars
Until then, our friends at Creative Bloq have produced an amazing Art of Film: Star Wars special which you can grab from the link.
So, are we allowed to get unbelievably excited now?
The first three Star Wars films - A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi - are legendary, but Lucas' prequel trilogy - The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith - suffered from the hype and burden of expectation.
But that's the past. The future of Star Wars is looking brighter after wonderful opening trailers and high hopes that selling the franchise to film giants Disney will rejuvenate it for a new generation.

The Force Awakens - Cast, crew, plot and rumours

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is (duh) the seventh Star Wars film, but the first that has been made since the purchase of Star Wars by Disney. The movie will though still come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy.
The Force Awakens is directed by JJ Abrams, the man who helmed the Star Trek reboot as well as classic TV shows Lost and Alias.
Scripting duties started with Michael Arndt, but moved on to Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams when Arndt departed. The other good news is that the music will once more be scored by legendary composer John Williams.
Star Wars: A New Hope
The story takes place approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, but will feature the stars of the 'middle' trilogy, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa). Also on board from the original trilogy are Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew - reprising the roles of R2D2, C3PO and Chewbacca respectively.
Our old school heroes are all there, but the two main protagonists of The Force Awakens are set to be Daisy Ridley's scrap-collector, Rey, and John Boyega's reformed Stormtrooper (and probable latent Jedi), Finn.
On the Dark Side of the Force is Girls' Adam Driver's Kylo Ren - the wannabe Vader with the divisive lightsaber - and Game of Thrones legend, Gwendoline Christie, as the super shiney Stormtrooper, Captain Phasma.
Also joining the cast are Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Inside Llewyn Davies), Domhall Gleeson (Ex Machina, About Time), Max von Sydow (Flash Gordon, Escape to Victory - obviously the Swedish thesp's finest works) - along with Andy Serkis (virtually every blockbuster with a CGI character).
Star Wars: a tech trailblazer

The tech of Star Wars

Star Wars has traditionally been something of a trailblazer for technology within the movie industry and, somewhat inevitably, for the ways in which watch movies.
Lucas' huge faith in digital movie shooting and playback has been pretty divisive in recent years, but his teams have had a massive impact in the worlds of sound, effects and format.
With Abrams a huge and vocal proponent of film over digital, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be shot in a more traditional anamorphic 35mm (Kodak film stock 5129 apparently).
Bad Robot's tweet
However, the film *will* be given the IMAX treatment, with a tweet from JJ Abrams' Bad Robot production company showing an IMAX camera being used. It remains to be seen for what portions and proportion of the film take advantage of this 70mm IMAX film - which is obviously capable of much higher resolution filming.
It's important to note that whatever is used to film the visual effects are not going to suffer. Abrams loves his blockbuster SFX and has ably demonstrated this on Star Trek, but he is also very keen to use models and full scale sets to bring that lived in feeling that permeates the original trilogy and owes such a debt to the classic sci-fi films.
The effects will be generated using Nvidia graphics cards - Quatro M6000 cards to be specific, so we'll be expecting some epic space battles.
Will we see 3D? Yes we darn well will. IMAX and Real 3D are both going to be used.
Finally, given that the Star Wars films have just arrived as digital downloads, you can expect to be able to buy the new film in digital, Blu-ray and, maybe, 4K Blu-ray as well.
And, although you (probably) won't see any drones in film, you might well see bits of the film filmed by drones. Apparently the flying camera rigs are causing a real issue for the Star Wars movie makers (at least according to Mark Hamill).
Star Wars droid

Facts about the plot (kind of spoilery)

So, thankfully, this is the shortest bit of this entire story. As you would expect, rumours are thick on the ground for a film this eagerly anticipated, but the actual honest-to-goodness facts around what will happen can only be culled from the official sources.
We know for a fact that Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, R2D2 and C3PO and Princess Leia will all feature in the film, and that it will be set approximately 30 years on from the events of Return of the Jedi, where the second Death Star was destroyed and the Emperor tossed into space by his protegee Darth Vader, also known as Anakin Skywalker, Luke's father and the protagonist of the prequels.
We know that John Boyega will play Finn - confirmed as a Stormtrooper who clearly has a rethink about his life choices - and that Daisy Ridley will play Rey, confirmed as a loner scavenger on the desert planet of planet Jakku.
Finn - played by John Boyega
There will be a character called Kylo Ren who will sport a lightsaber with a cool but slightly impractical cross guard and Poe Dameron (played by Isaac) as a rebel and, Isaac says "the best frickin' pilot in the galaxy."
As part of some cheery "May The 4th Be With You" festivities, Vanity Fair released a boatload of gorgeous shots by Annie Leibovitz from the set of the upcoming film, revealing some interesting set pieces and creature designs. But the biggest gem in the spoils was the photo of Adam Driver, who has now been confirmed as Kylo Ren, the central villain in this year's Star Wars flick.
Kylo Ren
Perhaps most thrillingly we also get to see the Millennium Falcon (amazing), X-Wings, Tie fighters and enough footage to suggest that the new trilogy will take its cues from episodes IV, V and VI rather than the later I, II and III.

Rumours about the plot (potentially apocryphal spoilers ahoy!)

The principal rumor revolves around the discovery of Luke Skywalker's lightsaber (and possibly his severed hand) sparking a journey to find the legendary Jedi Knight. The iconic weapon is discovered by a farmer and Poe Dameron is supposedly dispatched to collect it, but in doing so brings the bad guys with him.
Stormtrooper Finn will realise that he may not be on the side of good, and begin to resists against (potential Sith) Kylo Ren. Rumours have it that he is then locked up alongside Dameron and the two plot an escape.
Potentially the major arc will be around Luke, who is so powerful that he has gone into hiding where he can have a measure of control. Will he be good or will he follow in his father's footsteps?
The fact that Abrams has completely omitted Skywalker from the trailer and he is the only cast member to seemingly not feature on the official poster, could mean anything's possible.
There's also a cast list floating around that talks about flashbacks - so we can certainly expect to see a young Luke, we'd guess this could be showing how uncontrollable his force powers are. We also know that the venerable Max von Sydow will play a figure called The Vicar.
Other rumours have it that Rey is the daughter of Han and Leia (the tenuous link being that she uses the same DL-44 blaster as Han) and even more intriguingly that she is also the sister of Kylo Ren.
Wait, that would make him…
The saddest rumour though surrounds the death of Han Solo. Having begged Lucas to kill Han off in The Empire Strikes Back, it's not the most ridiculous notion. The rumour is that Luke and Han face off with Kylo Ren in the climactic finale of The Force Awakens, where Han tells Luke to spare Ren's life only for him to cut Han down.
So, we're all set to kick off with the first Star Wars movie in a decade, but the roller-coaster ride isn't stopping there...

Star Wars Episodes VIII, XI and Anthologies.

Star Wars Episode VIII

Let's deal with the most obvious matter right away, after Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens there will be a Star Wars VIII. That's how Roman numerals and trilogies work.
Details are, as you would expect, thin on the ground but we do know the director is Rian Johnson, the man behind Looper, and that the expected Star Wars Episode 8 release date is May 26th 2017. Now, be aware that with any major project in the future these dates can, and almost certainly will, slip. You have been warned...

Star Wars Episode IX

After Abrams ruled himself out of directing the final movie in the new Star Wars trilogy it has emerged that Jurassic World director, Colin Trevorrow will now take charge. Inevitably there was a Twitter meltdown from some fans unhappy at the appointment, despite the commercial success of the latest dino-flick.
"Colin is someone I've been interested in working with ever since I saw Safety Not Guaranteed," said Lucasfilm CEO, Kathleen Kennedy. "The power of that film paired with the enormous success ofJurassic World speaks volumes about his abilities both as a storyteller and skilled filmmaker."
Rian Johnson though is expected to continue writing duties on the final instalment, after running things for Episode VIII, however it's likely he'll end up collaborating on it with Trevorrow as filming gets closer.
Episode IX is scheduled for a release in 2019 and we expect it to continue the trend of Summer releases the later movies have shifted towards.

Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One

Rogue One
If your favourite bit of Star Wars wasn't Luke or Anakin's journey, but actually the world itself, from bounty hunters to the lives of Rebel pilots, then Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm will be a massive boon for you.
That's because, in order to recoup the whopping price paid for this most wonderful universe, Disney is hugely keen to build out a quite of films that exist within it - and it's decided to call these non-core movies 'Star Wars Anthologies'.
The Anthology series will start with Rogue One, but will likely see a regular flow of new titles that dig deep into the rich world of the Star Wars Universe.
The film will be directed by Welsh director Gareth Edwards, who has proven his big budget chops with the marvelous-looking Godzilla remake.
Rebel Pilots ftw
The movie will star Felicity Jones - probably best known for Theory of Everything - as the lead and the plot revolves Rebel pilots and will happen in the period between Episode III and Episode IV, but given the main plot point, it's going to be closer in time to A New Hope than Revenge of the Sith.
The film surrounds the efforts of rebel troops trying to steal the Empire's plans for the original Death Star, y'know the plans that allowed Luke to bullseye an exhaust port no bigger than a womp rat...
Ben Mendelsohn is rumored to be playing the main bad guy and Riz Ahmed is also being linked.
There was a brief teaser shown at the Star Wars Celebration, with Edwards also taking to the stage to explain that "I couldn't sit in a cinema and know that someone else made this film."
It's also likely to be the first Star Wars film not to feature the Jedi. "The absence of the Jedi is omnipresent," Edwards said on stage. "It's about the fact that God's not coming to save us… we have to do this ourselves."
That said, according to Birth. Movies. Death. Darth Vader will be appearing in the film, though possibly only as hologramatic representation. There have been no rumours yet as to who might voice him.
The Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One release date has been set for December 16, 2016.

Star Wars Anthology II

We now have official news about the second of the Anthology movies, set for release in between the new trilogy films.
Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, of the Lego Movie fame, will be taking the helm on a project scripted by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan.
"The story focuses on how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley," says the Star Wars blog.
We had expected this to feature a Boba Fett origin story, but that could still tie in with a young Han story too.
The second anthology film isn't due until 2018, but we've now got an official release date shifting the movies back to the same summer schedule as with Episode VIII.
Anthology II will premiere on May 25, 2018.

Star Wars TV series

If all the movie action wasn't enough we're rumoured to be getting some proper live-action TV shows, helmed by Netflix.
Netflix and Disney have a good working relationship with all its Marvel offerings, which makes the streaming giant a great home for the Star Wars shows.
It is rumoured that there will potentially be three different TV shows, though no details have emerged as to what, when or who will feature in them.
The plan though is to film the TV series in between the various movie schedules to allow them to use the existing sets - so it shouldn't be too far removed from the current era, but will have that big-budget cinematic feel.
So. Much. Star Wars.
The rumour-mill has gone utterly silent on this one though, so there's a good chance it was so much Bantha dung. Netflix is in fact still negotiating on whether it's going to be able to have The Force Awakens on its books.
At the moment it's set up to have all the new Star Wars movies except the first one.

Read More ...

If you were still using Zune, we have bad news for you
If you were still using Zune, we have bad news for you
If you have any Zune gift cards laying around, I have some bad news. Microsoft has officially closed down all digital music services for the Zune, and has migrated remaining accounts fully to its new Groove Music streaming service.
Old MP3 devices will still function, obviously, and you're welcome to keep anything you've already downloaded, but yesterday was the last day that anyone using a Zune had access to the online music marketplace or any of the online services provided by Microsoft.
The news comes two months after we reported on Microsoft's intent to close down the service in September and the company's intent to push everyone over to Groove.
Microsoft stopped making new Zune devices as early as 2008, after a particularly harsh $100 million (about £71.7m) loss in that fiscal year and closed down the Zune Marketplace on Xbox in 2013 when it switched to Xbox Music for its audio fix.
Today's announcement is the official end of Zune. Goodnight, sweet prince.

Read More ...

This tech could give your car or smartphone night vision capabilities
This tech could give your car or smartphone night vision capabilities
A breakthrough developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may just be able to shrink down night vision technology to the point that it could wind up in your car windshield or smartphone.
Thermal imaging, capable of illuminating subjects in utter darkness, has normally been restrained by the need for bulky and expensive cooling equipment to regulate the temperature-sensitive technology. However, MIT's new chip could forgo all that in place of a system of miniaturized sensors.
The foundation of this new system is graphene, a super-strong, semi-conductive material that's reactive to heat. It can be used to create computer chips capable of sensing heat and humidity, which in turn could revolutionize thermal imaging, as well as any other infrared technologies.
"Graphene is not only great for transistors, [but also] reinforcing structural materials," said Tomás Palacios, electrical engineer and co-author of the study behind the new sensor. "It's also one of the very best materials we know for infrared detection."

Great graphene

According to a report in Scientific American, the microscopic chip is cooled by an air pocket around a graphene strip, making it flexible, low-cost, and capable of detecting heat without the need for an external cooling system. Once further developed, graphene sensors could greatly reduce the cost and size of thermal imaging, improving its applications in the consumer, military and emergency response sector.
While other forms of night vision technology exist without a need for external cooling, alternatives such as low-light image sensors require at least some light to function properly. Coolant-dependent thermal imaging systems can show a clear image in absolute darkness, and while some models don't require refrigerants, the heat given off by an uncooled system can interfere with the thermal sensor's picture.
Graphene's possible applications don't stop at sensing heat. The stronger-than-steel material's ability to "retract" when exposed to light, as seen below, has spurred research on graphene's potential in robotics, where it could be developed into a possible inorganic muscle of sorts.
YouTube : Graphene at work

Read More ...

Mac Tips: Apple Mail: How to annotate images and PDFs
Mac Tips: Apple Mail: How to annotate images and PDFs
Starting with OS X Yosemite, a little-known feature made its way into Apple's Mail program for Mac: The ability to sign PDFs and markup documents and images without ever leaving the email client. Many users, however, have yet to uncover it or use its potential workflow-changing feature. Read on to see how it's done!
Mail Markup
To use this feature, follow these steps:
1. Open the Mail app.
2. Compose a new message, then drag an image or PDF onto the email compose window to attach it, or reply to a message that has an image or PDF attachment (and choose to include the original attachments in the reply).
3. Mouse over the PDF or image, and select the small drop-down menu icon.
4. Select "Markup" from the available options.
When you do this, you'll see the markup editor fade into view and the message content fade out. In this editor, you can choose various tools like pencil, pen, shapes, text and signatures. In addition, you can set line thickness options, border options, fill options, and the text sizing and font options.
Mail Markup
Marking directly onto the image or PDF will edit the file, and when you click "Done" the changes will be saved to the attachment only (the original file will remain untouched), and the edited file will be ready to send via the new message you're composing.
If you find that the document needs more editing or you need to make changes to the existing edits, then simply enter the markup editor again, and the changes you've already saved will be editable without recreating the file.

Read More ...

Google Now is the best way to cheat at trivia night
Google Now is the best way to cheat at trivia night
Google's digital assistant is getting a whole lot smarter at answering trivia questions. By giving its search engine the ability to understand semantics, Google Now can handle more complex queries.
"We can now break down a query to understand the semantics of each piece...so we can get at the intent behind the entire question," Google said in a statement. "That lets us traverse the Knowledge Graph much more reliably to find the right facts and compose a useful answer."
Google can now handle questions that involve superlatives, ordered items, references to a particular point in time and complex combinations.

What can you ask Google?

When you're stumped on trivia night, and if the rules allow for a digital assistant to be your partner, you can prod Google to tell you "what are the largest cities in Texas," or "what songs did Taylor Swift record in 2014."
Asking Google for the Royals roster in 2013 will bring back a result page with the team members in 2013, not the current roster. You can also ask more complex questions, like "who the US President was when the Angels won the World Series."
Business users doing research on the web could save time with Google's smarter search. The improved search could mean fewer queries to achieve the results you desire.
For example, previously you had to ask two separate questions to find out who the US President was when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won the World Series. You had to ask Google first for the year that the Angels won the World Series, and then ask who the US President was during that year. Now, you can combine both questions into a single query.
Google says that it is constantly working to improve its search engine, and mistakes will be made along the process.
"Ask Google "Who was Dakota Johnson's mom in the movie?", and we'll respond with the movies of Dakota Johnson's real-life mother Melanie Griffith, not the actor Jennifer Ehle who played Anastasia's mother Carla in the 50 Shades of Grey movie," the search giant confessed.
The enhancements to how Google search parses your questions were implemented on Google's end, so no update is necessary. Users will be able to ask more complex questions on the web, through the Google search app on iOS or through the Google Now service on Android devices.

Read More ...

Clash of the Kickstands: 2015's best tablet workhorses compared
Clash of the Kickstands: 2015's best tablet workhorses compared

Tablet workhorses compared

Windows 10 tablet
When tablets first began growing in popularity – right around the release of the original iPad back in 2010 – they weren't really designed for businesses or those wanting a new device for Word. Instead, they were designed for media consumption, like watching a movie in bed, reading an E-book or playing games.
Times have changed, and now people looking to buy a new laptop often consider buying a tablet instead. This is especially true with the latest crop of devices from the top tech giants – including the iPad Pro, Surface Pro 4 and Google Pixel C. Each device is a great option in its own right and we've compared them all to help you find which is best for your needs.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 had a lot to live up to, with the Surface Pro range in general being a pretty successful series. The Surface Pro 4 is no exception. Microsoft has upgraded the Surface Pro tablet with a higher, 2,736 x 1,824 resolution display.
There are also a number of other specs that really set the Surface Pro 4 apart, making it better equipped than other offerings. With RAM and storage being configurable up to 16GB and 1TB, respectively, users can configure the Surface Pro 4 with better internals than any other device on this list. Only the Dell XPS 12 comes close to matching the Surface Pro 4 with processor options ranging up to 6th generation Intel Core i7 chips.
The Surface Pro 4 also offers an improved Type Cover and Surface Pen. The Bluetooth-connected Pen features 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, which makes the device a pinpoint option for artists. Typists will love the new Type Cover, which features a widened spacing for the keys and a smooth glass trackpad.
Unfortunately, the Type Cover doesn't come with the device, which adds a $129 (£749, AU$1,349) surcharge to the Surface Pro 4's $899 (£749, AU$1,349) starting price. Although Microsoft's latest Windows tablet is a solid device, users should keep in mind there have been reports that the device's battery is plagued with performance issues.
Overall, the Surface Pro 4 is the device that comes closest to Windows 10 tablet perfection.
Specs Rundown:
  • Processor: Intel Skylake Core m3, i5, i7
  • Display: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 resolution
  • RAM: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
  • Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, microSD, headphone, Mini DisplayPort
  • Battery: 5 hours, 15 minutes
  • Price: Starts at $899 (£749, AU$1,349)

Apple iPad Pro

iPad Pro
Apple's business-class iPad Pro has been highly anticipated for a long time, and it was finally announced at Apple's fall event in September. The device is Apple's largest tablet ever with a 12.9-inch screen, making it a massive canvas for media professionals. Unfortunately, some might find having a device that only runs the iOS mobile operating system a bit too limited compared to other slates running the full desktop version of Windows.
But what really sells the iPad Pro is the Apple Pencil that comes with it. In our hands-on time with Apple Pencil, we found that the device was great at sketching, while ignoring our hands rubbing against the touchscreen. The flat, rubber-clad Smart Keyboard will put off users who want a real keyboard, but we found the peripheral to be fast and accurate.
Under the hood, the device features Apple's A9X processor, which is a souped-up version of the A9 processor found in the latest iPhone, except it's optimized for a tablet.
The iPad Pro is basically the device for artists and business people who prefer to stay in the Apple ecosystem.
Specs Rundown
  • Processor: Apple A9X
  • Display: 12.9-inch, 2,732 x 2,048 resolution
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB, 128GB
  • Ports: Lightning port
  • Battery: 6 hours
  • Price: Starts at $799 (£679, AU$1,249)

Google Pixel C

Google Pixel C
The Google Pixel C was a surprise announcement by Google at the company's latest Nexus phone event. It's basically the Android equivalent of the iPad, with a matching premium metal body and the addition of a magnetically-attaching keyboard.
While the specs of the device aren't that impressive compared to others on this list, the Pixel C offers a sharp 10.2-inch screen. The keyboard for the device is also unique in that it doesn't need to be charged. Instead, it will charge when it's connected to the tablet, and can run for months on a very small amount of power. It also drops the annoying physical keyboard contacts for a Bluetooth connection to the Pixel C.
Of course, although the specs aren't absolutely incredible, they'll do just fine in most situations, and the device is quite a bit cheaper than the others on this list, starting at $500 (around £330, AU$698).
If you want an great Android tablet that does just a little bit more with a real keyboard and trackpad, the Google Pixel C is for you.
Specs Rundown:
  • Processor: NVIDIA Tegra X1
  • Display: 10.2-Inch, 2,560 x 1,800 resolution, 308 ppi
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB, 64GB
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Battery: 10 hours, according to Google
  • Price: Starts at $499 (about £330, AU$698)

HP Spectre x2

HP Spectre X2
HP's Spectre x2 offers a sleek and stylish design. The device has a high-end look with a completely metal construction and industrial design. It's also intelligently engineered with a keyboard that clips to the tablet's chin, offering a comfortable typing position. Apart from the design, the HP device has one of the better batteries on the list that will supposedly last up to 10 hours on a single charge under normal use, according to HP.
The slate's quad speakers (two in the screen and keyboard) also offer an extra layer of depth and volume to music and movies. At the front and back of the device you'll also find Intel's RealSense cameras for some photography related hijinks and useful applications. HP has also taken a page from 1970s-era televisions with the kickstand bar, which enables the device to go as far back as 150-degrees, quite a bit more than is found on the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700, which offers 135-degrees.
Specs Rundown:
  • Processor: Intel Skylake Core m3, m5, m7
  • Display: 12-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 resolution
  • RAM: 4GB, 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
  • Ports: 2 x USB-C, microSD card slot
  • Battery: 5 hours, 45 minutes
  • Price: Starts at $799 £799 (about AU$1,125)

Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700

Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
Lenovo's IdeaPad Miix 700 is another device that features a great design – that's arguably completely lifted from the Surface Pro 3 – with a sleek and stylish keyboard. While it's not the most original looking device, it incorporates a power-sipping Intel Core m7 processor. The device also matches most of its competitors when it comes to specs, featuring 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for storing large files and running multiple programs at once.
What really makes this device different, however, is that it offers a wide selection of ports. With a USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, microSD, micro HDMI, and even a microSIM port, there's plenty of options for plugging in a bunch of peripherals. Furthermore, the battery of the Miix 700 lasts 9 hours, according to Lenovo. Almost on par with the HP Spectre x2's projected maximum run time. Add all of that to a decent price, and we have a very nice tablet indeed.
Specs Rundown
  • Processor: Intel Skylake Core m7
  • Display: 12-Inch, 2160 x 1440 resolution
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, micro HDMI, micro SIM, microSD, Headphone
  • Battery: 9 Hours, according to Lenovo
  • Price: Starts at $699 (around £454, AU$978)

Dell XPS 12

Dell XPS 12
In releasing the Dell XPS 12, Dell's goal was to make the transition between a laptop and tablet as fluid and easy as possible, and it's gone as far as completely removing the hinge. The device uses magnets to hold the tablet to the keyboard, and you can literally just pull the tablet off when you want to use it in tablet mode, making the transition between the two device types very easy.
Another thing to note about the device is it offers customization options for up to an Intel Core i7 processor, meaning that it will be able to handle pretty much anything that you can throw at it. You will also enjoy the XPS 12's whopping 4K display, which is the highest resolution display on this list.
Lastly, the keyboard on the XPS 12 is nearly perfect. It offers chiclet-spaced keys and a nice roomy touchpad, along with a classy rubberized deck. And as far as ports go, the XPS 12 is the only one on the list to offer a Thunderbolt input.
If you want a high-end Windows 10 tablet with a keyboard that's truly made for typing and if you don't mind a thicker device, you should get the Dell XPS 12.
Specs Rundown:
  • Processor: Intel Skylake Core m5
  • Display: 12.5-Inch, 3,840 x 2,160 Resolution
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB
  • Ports: SD Card slot, Thunderbolt, USB-C, headphone
  • Battery: 10 Hours, according to Dell
  • Price: Starts at $999 (£1,099, around AU$1,361)

Read More ...

Twitter is looking to let you do more than 'like' tweets
Twitter is looking to let you do more than 'like' tweets
Twitter has been slowly pulling from the likes of Instagram and Facebook to turn Favs into Likes and stars into hearts, and emojis might be its new edition.
According to a tweet by user @_Ninji, it looks like Twitter is testing the ability to give your heart an emoji reaction, to better explain what exactly you're feeling.
While running a self-patched version of the Twitter app on iOS that forces all features to be enabled, @_Ninji noticed that he was able to give tweets one of a variety of emojis when clicking on the heart icon.
Looking at the screenshots tweeted, emojis include love eyes emoji, a smiling emoji and a sticking out tongue emoji with an ellipses that opens up more options.
Another screenshot shows a frown face, a crying face, the party noisemaker, the 100 and a snoozing face, while a different screenshot gives you the hear/speak/see no evil monkeys, thumbs up and down, fire, a wave and the poo emoji, among others.
Of course, the test isn't available to everyone just yet, and in all likelihood, Twitter may never actually release this new feature, but one thing is obvious - emojis are here, and they are here to stay.
We'll be getting in touch with Twitter to see exactly what it plans to do with these emoji options.
Via The Verge

Read More ...

HP's notification-savvy smartwatch is disguised as a regular ol' watch
HP's notification-savvy smartwatch is disguised as a regular ol' watch
Hot on the heels of Tag Heuer's connected device and Fossil buying up Misfit, a company known for its affordable fitness trackers, HP has teamed up with Switch watchmaker Movado for the Bold Motion smartwatch.
This isn't HP's first time in the smartwatch rodeo, as it released the Chronowing with fashion designer Michael Bastian last year.
Available today on Movado.com for a hefty sum of $695 (about £457, AU$979), the Movado Bold Motion smartwatch comes from the Engineered by HP program that's been paired with Movado for its fashionable designs.
The watch has the typical array of features found on Apple Watch and Android Wear devices: email, calendar and social media notifications, along with activity tracking and haptics that buzz your wrist.
HP developed the hardware modules, software and user interface, and is providing HP cloud services for all of the brand smartwatches, though what that means specifically has yet to be determined. The Bold Motion is compatible with both Android (4.4 and up) and iOS (8 and up) devices.
Similar to the Withings line, the Bold Motion seems to be a connected watch that lacks a touch screen with notifications displayed on the arm. Rather, the device syncs up to an app on your mobile phone to send you the notifications.
This seems redundant since your phone already buzzes and sends you alerts but it's apparent pushing out smart wrist gadgets is the next reasonable step for expensive analog watches. It's also clear that smartwatches don't always look good with the tech jammed inside.
The partnership of tech and fashion companies such as HP and Movado then seems like the best option to figure out what kind of smartwatches people want. Check out the video below to get a better picture of the Bold Motion in action.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2C_3swE9sQ

Read More ...

Updated: Best business tablets: 9 great slates for work
Updated: Best business tablets: 9 great slates for work

The best business tablets

Implementing a tablet into your workflow could allow you to stay productive, while reducing the weight in of your gear bag. Many of today's best tablets come with processing power that rivals standalone laptops. And when you add in a keyboard, getting work done on a smaller, slimmer form factor device will be easy.
While some tablets feature manageable price tags, the market is still dense, and the consumer market winners are still not exactly the best option for small business users.
In the interest of giving an overview of the market at the moment, here is a roundup of our tablet recommendations for the business world as it stands today. The requirements for consideration were either a 4-star rating from techradar or a hands on review experience that left our editors wowed.
No matter if you rely on Windows, Android, or even iOS, there's something worth recommending. It's only a matter of figuring out what your priorities are.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4

1. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The tablet that can replace your laptop
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense 3:2 aspect ratio display | Storage: 256GB PCIe 3.0 SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2 x 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy) | Camera: 8MP rear-facing (1080p HD); 5MP front-facing (1080p) HD camera | Weight: 1.73 pounds | Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36 inches (W X H X D)
High screen
Vastly improved Type Cover
Type Cover still sold separately
Intel Core m3 at entry level
A higher resolution screen, a thinner design and a move to Intel's more powerful Skylake processors all help to make this portable tablet a capable replacement for your laptop. Sadly, the Type Cover keyboard is still an optional necessity for this laptop replacement.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
iPad Pro

2. Apple iPad Pro

The biggest tablet Apple's ever made
CPU: Apple A9X | Graphics: Integrated | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.9-inch, 2,048 x 2,732 | Storage: 32GB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi , Bluetooth 4.2 (Low Energy) | Camera: 8MP iSight (1080p HD); 5MP FaceTime (720p) HD | Weight: 1.57 pounds | Dimensions: 8.68 x 12 x 0.27 inches (W X H X D)
Expansive, usable screen
Hugely powerful
Large footprint
Battery life could be longer
Apple takes the iPad into uncharted territory. The iPad Pro's optional accessories add to the cost of the tablet, but the keyboard cover and Apple Pencil stylus make the iPad even more suited for business and creative users. The iPad Pro also debuts Apple's new split-screen multitasking.
Read the full review: Apple iPad Pro
Dell XPS 12

3. Dell XPS 12

Dell has a clever new take on the 2-in-1
CPU: 1.1GHz Intel Core m5 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.7GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 | Screen: 12.5" 4K Ultra HD, 3,840 x 2,160 | Storage: 256GB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi , Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy) | Camera: 8MP rear (1080p HD); 5MP front (1080p HD) | Weight: 1.75 pounds | Dimensions: 11.46 x 7.6 x 0.31 inches (W X H X D)
Inventive hinge-less keyboard base
Sharp, rich and accurate 4K display
Soft touch plastic coating all over
Even though the new XPS 12 takes its inspiration from the Surface Pro line, Dell's keyboard dock is highly usable and is included in the cost of the slate. This laptop replacement also supports Dell's Active Stylus for digital inking.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 12
ToughPad FZ-M1

4. Panasonic ToughPad FZ-M1

Built rugged for business
CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.3GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8GB SDRAM | Screen: 7-inch WXGA, 1,280 x 800 | Storage: 128GB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi , Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy) | Camera: 8MP rear (1080p HD); 720p webcam | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Dimensions: 7.98 x 5.20 x 0.71 inches (W X H X D)
Rugged design
Bright touchscreen
Battery life
Panasonic's ToughPad FZ-M1 dares to go where no other tablet can thanks to its rugged design and bright screen. If your work takes you into the field, you'll be thankful that Panasonic equipped this slate with a screen that's readable even under direct sunlight.
Read the full review: Panasonic ToughPad FZ-M1
Galaxy Tab S2

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

This ultra-light Android tablet is the latest iPad challenger
CPU: Samsung Exynos 5433 octa-core (quad-core 1.9 GHz & quad-core 1.3 GHz) | Graphics: Integrated | RAM: 3GB | Screen: 9.7-inch, 1,536 x 2,048 | Storage: 32GB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi , Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy) | Camera: 8MP rear (1080p HD); 5MP front (1080p HD) | Weight: 0.85 pounds | Dimensions: 9.34 x 6.65 x 0.22 inches (W X H X D)
Thinner, lighter design
New 4:3 display
So-so battery life
Bloatware is still there
Samsung has created a capable Android alternative with a screen size, resolution and aspect ratio to match Apple's class-leading iPad Air 2. Best of all, the microSD card reader makes expansion a breeze.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
HP Pavlion x2

6. HP Pavilion x2

The best and most affordable Windows 10 convertible
CPU: 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3736F (quad-core, 2MB cache, 2.16GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB DDR3L SDRAM | Screen: 10.1-inch, 1,280 x 800 | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Connectivity: 802.11b Wi-Fi , Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy) | Camera: HP TrueVision HD webcam | Weight: 2.61 pounds | Dimensions: 10.39 x 6.81 x 0.78 inches (W X H X D)
Long battery life
Roaring speakers
Creaky hinge
Limited storage and memory
HP has created an extremely affordable and portable Windows tablet that can double as a netbook for when you need to get serious about productivity. This affordable slate redefines what a netbook should be, with a detachable touchscreen.
Read the full review: HP Pavilion x2
Xperia Z4 Tablet

7. Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Beautifully designed to handle accidental spills
CPU: 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, 64-bit Octa Core | Graphics: Adreno 430 | RAM: 2GB DDR3L SDRAM | Screen: 10.1-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 | Storage: 32GB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi , Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy) | Camera: 8MP rear (1080p), 5MP front (1080p) | Weight: 0.86 pounds | Dimensions: 10.0 x 6.57 x 0.24 inches (W X H X D)
Gorgeous display
New improved design
Problematic UI
Only 32GB option
Sony's Xperia Z4 Tablet retains the water- and dust-resistant capabilities of the line's previous models, making it a good slate for business users who may not need a fully rugged device. Add in the keyboard dock, and this tablet becomes a versatile machine for composing emails and writing documents on the go.
Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
iPad Air 2

8. Apple iPad Air 2

Apple perfects its tablet
CPU: Apple A8X processor with M8 motion co-processor | Graphics: PowerVR GXA6850 (octa-core graphics) | RAM: 2GB | Screen: 9.7-inch 1,536 x 2,048 | Storage: 16GB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE optional | Camera: 8MP iSight, 1.2MP FaceTime HD | Weight: 0.96 pound (437g) | Dimensions: 6.6 x 9.4 x 0.24 inches (W X H X D)
Superbly powerful
Lovely screen
Volume silencer gone
16GB is too little storage
The iPad Air 2 balances performance with size. Buying into Apple's ecosystem, you'll have access to a robust selection of apps, plenty of third-party accessories and a gorgeous Retina display to showcase photos and videos. The 9.7-inch size is still compact enough for travel, but big enough to get some work done.
Read the full review: Apple iPad Air 2
Galaxy Tab Active

9. Samsung Galaxy Tab Active

Samsung's Android answer to rugged slates
CPU: 1.2 GHz, Quad-Core Qualcomm APQ | Graphics: Integrated | RAM: 1.5GB | Screen: 8-inch, 1,280 x 800 | Storage: 16GB | Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi , Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy) | Camera: 3.1MP rear (1080p), 1.2MP front | Weight: 0.84 pounds | Dimensions: 4.97 x 8.39 x 0.38 inches (W X H X D)
Survives natural elements
Great battery life
Limited storage
Not rugged enough for drops
If your business needs a rugged tablet that runs Android, there are few, if any, that can match the Galaxy Tab Active's rugged design. Like the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet, this one is also water- and dust-resistant, but the Galaxy Tab Active sacrifices a sleek design for a rubbery bumper that helps shield the tablet on impact.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab Active

Read More ...

Review: Panasonic TX-65CZ950
Review: Panasonic TX-65CZ950

Introduction and features

At long, long last, OLED screen technology is starting to realise the huge potential it's always appeared to have. LG's investment in new OLED production facilities has enabled the Korean brand to start selling big-screen OLED TVs at prices low enough to take on the most expensive LCD TVs.
And now Panasonic has decided the time is right to jump in with its own debut OLED TV, the 65CZ950: a set which laughs in the face of cheapness but also, handily, sets a whole new bar for picture quality.
The TV, which just went on sale in the UK as the Panasonic TX-65CZ952 and costs £7,999 (about $11,150 or AU$16,130) is easily one of the best in the market - but will be ditto for the US and AU markets when it eventually launches in those territories.
I'm getting ahead of myself, though. There's much to get through before we immerse ourselves in the 65CZ950's stunning pictures, starting with its equally stunning design.
OLED's seemingly physics-defying trick of being able to deliver huge screen sizes from incredibly skinny bodies is to the fore once more, immediately making Panasonic's masterpiece look like it's travelled back from 2025.

Sharply dressed

The curved screen is as pretty as ever too, while the set's rear benefits from an uncharacteristic (for Panasonic) rush of design blood in the shape of a white Alcantara finish. This finish even extends to a clip-on panel that sits over the deeper section of the 65CZ950's rear that accommodates such things as the built-in connections, tuners and video processing circuitry.
Panasonic TX-65CZ952
While it's easy to imagine people being seduced by the curved screen on an aesthetic level, it's important to stress that curved screens can cause viewing issues in the shape of distorted reflections of bright objects in your room and impaired image geometry if you're watching from down the TV's sides.
It is usually possible to mitigate both of these issues in a sensibly arranged viewing room, though - and if you've just dropped eight grand on a TV, I'd say you owe it to yourself to try and do whatever you need to do to get the 65CZ950 into an optimum position!


Although it almost feels boring to talk about something as prosaic as connections on a TV like this, the bottom line is that they are actually very impressive.
The four HDMIs are all capable of handling 4K Ultra HD up to 60 frames per second and with HDCP 2.2 anti-piracy protocols in place. Following an upcoming firmware update they will also, we're assured, handle high dynamic range (HDR) sources such as Ultra HD Blu-rays when they appear.
The HDR support should also extend to USB sticks and streaming services (Amazon already offers a selection of shows in HDR, including Bosch, Mozart in the Jungle and the entire lineup in its Pilots Season). It's a real pity the necessary firmware upgrade to add HDR to the 65CZ950's considerable talents wasn't available in time for this review, but hopefully it will make Panasonic's TV even better when it does roll out.
Naturally the 65CZ950 is well stocked with multimedia connections, including three USBs and the pretty much inevitable wired and wireless network connections. You can use these to both stream multimedia over your network from DLNA-enabled devices or access Panasonic's online services.

4K streaming is available

These services are becoming decently comprehensive these days, with the 4K versions of Netflix and Amazon Prime both standing out. However, disappointingly the 65CZ950 doesn't carry Panasonic's brilliant new Firefox OS interface.
Let's quickly get back to the good news by thinking more about the OLED screen at the 65CZ950's heart. The thing about OLED is that - much like Panasonic's much-loved but now defunct plasma technology - every single pixel in its screen can produce its own light and color. This clearly has enormously positive implications for contrast, as in principle it allows a perfectly black pixel to sit right alongside a perfectly white one.
Panasonic TX-65CZ952

The beauty's in the processing

Making the potential shadow detail, contrast finesse and color nuancing from the 65CZ950 even more mouthwatering is the fact each of the screen's pixels is controlled via Panasonic's new 4K Pro system.
Developed initially for Panasonic's 2015 high-end LCD TVs, the 'Studio Master Processor' part of 4K Pro draws on light control and color techniques previously only found in professional monitors. These include using 3D look up tables for colors that enable the TV to reference tones against 8000 registry points (versus 100 on 'normal' TVs); 10-bit driving to produce more 'steps' of gradation; and a new Absolute Black Drive specially developed for OLED that manages to control light levels at the point just above black.
That last one is an issue that's proved challenging for LG's otherwise superlative OLED TVs.
From what I've seen of the 4K Pro system on UHD LCD TVs, the thought of what it might be able to achieve with an OLED screen where light output can be controlled down to individual pixel level is, frankly, mouthwatering.
Panasonic TX-65CZ952

The Hollywood effect

Obviously there's potential for over complexity in all the picture features a TV as sophisticated as the 65CZ950 carries. However, as well as the quality of its screen being so good it's quite forgiving of your picture setting.
Panasonic has sought to simplify things by getting acclaimed Hollywood colorist Mike Sowa - best known for his work on Oblivion - to calibrate the TV's True Cinema setting according to his own professional eye.
And this preset proves really, really effective, delivering wonderfully natural, engaging images - especially in a fairly dark room - without the need for any significant tweaking.
There are also a couple of THX modes, though for me these don't make quite such effective use of all the TV's OLED talents as Sowa's mode. The THX modes are still significant, though, because they mean the 65CZ950 has passed THX's battery of tough image quality tests - something no previous OLED TV has done.
Wrapping the 65CZ950's features up is 3D playback, delivered using the passive (cheap, non-electronic glasses) system. This means you shouldn't have to worry about the flickering or crosstalk ghosting noise that can plague the rival active 3D system, while the way passive 3D's onscreen filtering system reduces resolution should be negated by the fact that you're watching full HD 3D Blu-rays on a 4K-resolution screen.

Picture Performance

So to the moment of truth: has the application of Panasonic's processing and, perhaps, experience with plasma technology to an OLED screen delivered the ground-breaking results I was hoping for?
Actually, yes.
The impact of 4K Pro is most visible during dark scenes. Such content generally looks nothing short of amazing on any OLED TVs, of course, thanks to the technology's self-emissive nature. But Panasonic's Absolute Black Drive means you can now enjoy OLED's amazingly rich, deep black levels without having to worry about the slight light inconsistency issues noted on LG's OLED TVs to date.
These issues, if you haven't yet read our recent review of the 65EF9500, are that the picture can darken at its left and right edges, and that those inky black colours can suddenly fall away dramatically at times, especially if you are trying to run the screen quite brightly.
With the 65CZ950, though, these issues seem to have been almost completely addressed, meaning that you can gawp at its extraordinary, OLED inspired black level depths without having to worry about them suddenly losing their way.

Amazing contrast

The thing about OLED, though, is not just that it can deliver deeper, more convincing black levels than any other TV technology to date. It's also capable of delivering these black levels without having to compromise the brightness and color intensity of neighboring bright picture elements.
Shots of outer space in Interstellar are a particularly good demonstration of just how good OLED's contrast performance is, as each tiny star in the sky and each bright reflection off the space craft's hull shines forth from the surrounding blackness with a revelatory level of intensity compared with the much flatter, more compromised look you get with even the best LCD TVs.
This makes dark scenes look much more dynamic and realistic, as well as helping them enjoy both the same level of intensity and same sense of depth and scale that bright scenes do. Such consistency between bright and dark scenes is crucial to a truly satisfying viewing experience, and no TV does it better than the 65CZ950.
As well as fixing the dark scene issues seen on LG's OLED TVs, the 65CZ950 suffers none of the backlight clouding or unevenness during dark scenes you get to some extent with even the best LCD TVs - which again makes it much easier to become totally lost in the movie worlds you're watching.
Panasonic TX-65CZ952

The little things matter

Panasonic's remarkably accurate control over OLED's self-emissive light properties helps the 65CZ950 produce gorgeous amounts of subtle shadow detail and colour gradation in dark areas too. There are some LCD screens this year that have also gotten amazingly good at this (including Panasonic's own CX802 TVs), but for me the 65CZ950 still sets a new shadow detail bar.
Good black levels are usually the start of generally good color performance, so it follows that the 65CZ950's stunning black levels lead to a mostly stunning color delivery. With those inky blacks to work off, the 65CZ950's colors look gorgeously vibrant, rich and potent, as well as displaying a level of naturalism that I've seldom if ever been seen before - especially during dark scenes.
The use of a 4K pixel resolution in conjunction with the 4K Pro processing means, moreover, that the screen is able to combine the richness of its colors with gorgeous amounts of subtlety and finesse that make issues like striping and blocking a thing of the past - as well as 'selling' the benefits of 4K more aggressively.
In fact, by the time you've combined Panasonic's processing prowess with OLED's pixel level of light and color precision, you've got 4K pictures on the 65CZ950 that truly dazzle with their clarity and detail.

Minor niggles

Are there any flaws at all in the 65CZ950's ground-breaking pictures?
As noted earlier, the curved screen can distort reflections from your room - though actually the reflection filter Panasonic has applied to its OLED star is the most effective I've seen. Strangely I found 3D pictures on the 65CZ950 to suffer with a bit more ghosting than I would have expected from a TV that's using the passive 3D system.
Panasonic TX-65CZ952
On one or two occasions I felt as if I could still see the very faintest trace of some light inconsistency towards the screen's edges, but the effect occurs so slightly and so infrequently that it's never something that becomes a significant distraction.
Finally, the 65CZ950 is not as bright or quite as extreme with its color range as some of the latest LCD TVs - especially Samsung's JS9000 and JS9500 series, or Sony's X8505C and X93/X94 series.
Personally with today's content this doesn't trouble me; I'll take the 65CZ950's uniquely brilliant contrast prowess over more brightness and color aggression every time. The only debate is whether those brighter, punchier LCD images may prove better suited to HDR than the 65CZ950.


My suspicion, though, based on having seen a demo of HDR on the 65CZ950 (the sample I tested, if you recall, hasn't had its HDR capabilities 'unlocked' via firmware yet), is that the 65CZ950 will be able to handle HDR very nicely.
But I believe that the sense of extended dynamic range will be founded on LCD-beating black level extremes and backlight uniformity rather than the brighter end of the light spectrum where LCD seems keen to focus.
In any event, complaining about the 65CZ950's pictures is akin to spotting a slightly off-angle brushstroke on Van Gogh's Sunflowers. For me Panasonic's set delivers overall comfortably the most consistently stunning and engaging pictures I've ever seen on a television.

Usability, Sound and Value

While it's a shame the 65CZ950 doesn't benefit from Panasonic's Firefox OS platform, it's still overall an easy TV to use.
It's easy to find and access apps, and to configure the menus to suit your specific requirements. Also, while the tools are provided to calibrate every aspect of its pictures to the nth degree, the set also features an unusually strong set of picture presets - especially Mike Sowa's True Cinema one - that help even the most extreme technophobes get great results with minimal technical knowledge or manual input.


As might have been expected given how mind-bendingly slim the 65CZ950 is, it struggles to work the same magic with its sound that it does with its pictures.
Its speakers hold up fine with relatively straightforward TV shows, but when pushed with a pumping Hollywood action scene and/or dense score you start to notice a distinct lack of bass, which in turn leaves the midrange sounding over-burdened and thin.
Panasonic TX-65CZ952
I'm talking average rather than bad here, to be clear, but this is one area where LG, with its Harman Kardon audio systems, steals a march on the 65CZ950.


If LG's recently tested 65EF9500 steals a march over the 65CZ950 with its audio, it rolls over it in a tank when it comes to value. After all, remarkably LG's 65EF9500 4K OLED model is, at the time of writing, available online for just under $5,000.
This is literally half the price of the 65CZ950.
Also the 65CZ950 is as much as five times as expensive as some highly specified 65-inch 4K UHD LCD TVs out there.
The opposite side of the coin is that the 65CZ950 is an incredible television that, for me, produces the best all-round picture quality I've ever seen.
How much the 65CZ950's unprecedented performance is worth to you is ultimately something only you and your bank balance can decide.


I guess for most of us the 65CZ950's £7,999 - around $11,150 or AU$16,130 - price tag makes it nothing more than an AV pipe dream.
While we probably will never be able to own one, though, the 65CZ950 still represents a key moment in the history of television for the way it harnesses Panasonic's processing power and picture quality know-how to take the performance potential of OLED TV to a previously unimagined level.

We liked

In case you haven't picked up on this yet, the 65CZ950's picture quality is incredible.
The depth and evenness of its black level response, its incredible contrast range, its sensational color and its shadow detailing and tonal accuracy make it a constant joy to behold.
It's easy to use for such a sophisticated TV too, and ogling its mind-bogglingly slim design never grows old.
Panasonic TX-65CZ952

We disliked

The curved nature of the 65CZ950's screen may be divisive, and could cause viewing issues if you have to watch it from a severe angle.
It's a shame the set doesn't get Panasonic's Firefox OS, and then there's the small matter of that price tag to overcome.


While it's great to see LG 'mainstreaming' OLED technology with its latest aggressively priced OLED TVs, it's also brilliant to find a brand like Panasonic willing to take a 'no compromise' approach to this still relatively new screen technology. And it's also vitally important that it's a brand with the TV experience and laudable home cinema obsessions of Panasonic.
So while you probably won't be able to afford to buy a 65CZ950, you simply have no choice but to love it.

Read More ...

Updated: Android Marshmallow update: when can I get it?
Updated: Android Marshmallow update: when can I get it?

Google, Samsung and HTC

Update: The Android Marshmallow update is out now for certain devices. It's just out for the Nexus 5, 6, 7 and 9 as well as the Nexus Player. LG is the first third-party manufacturer to force its update through, and it's out now for those in Poland. The worldwide update timing is still under wraps. Read on for more details.
Android Marshmallow is here. There are battery life improvements, greater app permission controls, standardised support for fingerprint scanners, more granular volume controls, USB-C support and new Google Now features, all part of a mix that makes this an exciting upgrade for users. But is your phone actually going to get it?
The release process for Android updates is more complicated than that for iOS updates, and just because an update has been launched that doesn't necessarily mean you'll have instant access to it. In fact, you probably won't. It's down to device manufacturers, and in some countries, like the US, carriers spend quite a bit of time with the new software before releasing it to their phones and tablets.
If you own a Nexus device you're in luck, as the software has landed on those first – and manufacturers like Motorola are generally better at getting updates out quickly. But other manufacturers are a little less predictable.
To make the rollout less of a mystery here's the latest, and constantly updated, information on when Android Marshmallow is likely to land on various devices.

Google and Nexus

Google's Nexus devices are the first to get the Android Marshmallow upgrade – one of their biggest selling points is speedy updates and stock versions of Android.
Nexus 6
The new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P come with Marshmallow pre-installed, and Google has started rolling out the update to the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9, Nexus Player and the whole range of Android One smartphones.


Samsung did a pretty good job of getting Android Lollipop on to its phones rapidly, but it seems to have slowed things down for the Marshmallow launch.
According to a leaked roadmap the two latest phones from the company will be getting Marshmallow first, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ set to get the update in December 2015.
That roadmap suggests the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge will be updated in January 2016. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Samsung Galaxy Note Edge will then follow in February.
Galaxy S6
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha and the Samsung Galaxy S5 are also set to get the update, but there's no official date yet.
It's not clear whether handsets older than the Samsung Galaxy S5 will get Android Marshmallow, but it's a remote possibility for the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Both of these once-high-end phones were updated to Android Lollipop, but they're now two years old.
As for tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S range has been updated to Android 5.0, and is recent enough that we'd expect a Marshmallow update. The Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 may well get an update too, but we're not optimistic about the prospects for most other Samsung slates.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014), for example, is still on Android KitKat, despite being relatively recent. It's possible that it will skip Lollipop and move straight to Android Marshmallow, but there's nothing yet to suggest that will be the case.


HTC tweeted out a list of its phones that will be getting the update a few weeks ago. The company said HTC One M9 and HTC One M8 would get Marshmallow before the end of the year.
HTC One M9
It'll also be updating the HTC One M9+, HTC One E9, HTC One ME, HTC One E8, HTC One M8 EYE, HTC Butterfly 3, HTC Desire 826, HTC Desire 820 and HTC Desire 816. There's no official word on when it's coming to those devices though, and it may not be until 2016.

Sony, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, Huawei, Asus and ZTE


Sony has updated us on what phones will be getting the Marshmallow update, and the Xperia Z1 will be missing out this time. The full list includes the Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Compact, Xperia Z5 Premium, Sony Xperia Z3+, Sony Xperia Z3, Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet and Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact.
Xperia Z3
The Xperia Z2, Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia M5, Xperia C5 Ultra, Xperia M4 Aqua and Xperia C4 are also getting Marshmallow goodness.
In terms of what that update will bring, we've seen the first 'concept' for the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact. Tap to wake – whereby a quick double knock of the screen will activate the display from sleep – will be enabled, and the ability to connect MIDI devices through USB too.
New keyboards will also be added into the mix to improve tip-typing, and more FLAC (lossless hi-res audio) files will be supported too.
There's no official word on when the updates will starting rolling out, but Sony is well known for doing these things slowly – but at least concepts are appearing, so the update is in the works.


LG is set to be the first third-party manufacturer to get its Marshmallow updates out of the gate. The update is due to be available to LG G4 owners in Poland in the week starting October 19.
After that it'll be rolled out to the US and the rest of Europe, but there's no official word on which devices will get the upgrade, or when. New features include updated app permissions and two Do Not Disturb modes.
There's also the new Doze Mode, which turns off background apps when the phone is in sleep mode to help save on battery life.
Older LG phones aren't certain to get the update – the LG G3 missed out on Android 5.1 but it did appear on a Korean LG support page which carried hints about the new software, so it may come eventually.
The rumoured LG G4 Pro may even launch with Android Marshmallow depending on when it arrives – and if it doesn't it'll likely get updated fairly quickly.
We'd expect that the LG G Flex 2, LG G4c and other fairly recent LG phones will get Android Marshmallow eventually too, although they'll probably have to wait longer than the G4. It's even possible that the LG G2 will get it, but we wouldn't count on it.


As Motorola's phones run a version of Android which is almost stock there tends to be an expectation that they'll receive updates in a timely fashion, but there's no update on when that'll be in the case of Marshmallow.
Moto X
The Moto X Style, Moto X Play and Moto G 2015 run Android 5.1.1, and those phones will eventually get the Marshmallow software.
It'll also come to both the 2014 and 2015 versions of the Moto X Pure Edition, the 2014 Moto G and Moto G with 4G LTE, the Moto X 2014 and the Moto MAXX, Moto Turbo, Droid Turbo and the Nexus 6.


OnePlus eventually brought Android Lollipop to the OnePlus One, but it wasn't very fast about it. With the OnePlus 2 now available, and the OnePlus X and a new version of its own Android-based OS just out of the gates, OnePlus will have you waiting on an Android Marshmallow update for a little while yet.
OnePlus One
The company has confirmed that the OnePlus 2 and OnePlus One will be getting the Marshmallow treatment sometime during Q1 of 2016, though those with the mid-range OnePlus X will have to wait a while longer to find out when the new Android will be landing on the handset.


If you've got a Huawei device you might have quite a wait for Android Marshmallow, as the majority of its devices are still on Android KitKat or earlier.
Huawei P8
The Huawei P8, Huawei P8 Max and Honor 4X are probably among the most likely handsets to get the update, but it may take a while.


Zenfone 2
Asus is another company which often isn't particularly speedy with its updates. The Zenfone 6, Zenfone 5 and Zenfone 4 are only just getting Android Lollipop for example, but nevertheless they are being updated, so we'd expect relatively recent Asus handsets like those three and the Zenfone 2 will eventually see Marshmallow.


Honor 6
Honor has revealed its update schedule for Marshmallow, and it's bad news if you have one of the Huawei-made handsets. It's going to be quite a wait.
According to Honor India the update is coming to the Honor 7, Honor 6 Plus, Honor 6, Honor 4X and Honor 4C, but not until February next year.
And there's no confirmation that the phones will get the update before the end of that month either – February is just when the update process is starting, so it could be any time in 2016.


ZTE doesn't always bother to update its phones, so if you have one you may have to make do without Android Marshmallow, although the newer and more high-profile your phone, the better your chances of getting the upcoming Android release.
Blade S6
So there's a chance the ZTE Blade S6 and the US-focused ZTE Axon will get the update, but the ZTE Blade V and ZTE Blade Q Mini, for example, probably won't.

What do you get with Android 6.0 Marshmallow?

While you're waiting to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you'd probably like to know more about the new features it incorporates. We've been playing around with the new OS, and here are some of our favorite features.
It's not a big design-based update like Lollipop was. Material Design is still intact here, and most of the focus is on new features and bug fixes.

Android Pay

Android Pay
Technically you can use Android Pay without the Marshmallow software, but having the latest OS is certainly a big help.
The update to Marshmallow brings with it fingerprint sensor functionality for the first time, so you don't even need to open up an app – you can just unlock your phone with your finger and place it on the contactless payment terminal.
Android Pay
Third-party apps are also supported within Marshmallow, making it much easier to buy stuff directly in your Android phone.
However, Android Pay is only available in the US right now, and there are no clear plans for when it'll be rolling out around the world.

Android Marshmallow fingerprint support

We've seen some smartphone manufacturers already include fingerprint scanners in their devices, but with Android Marshmallow Google is standardizing support across the platform.
You can use a fingerprint scanner to unlock your device and pay for media from the Google Play Store, and the fingerprint scanning tech is also open to developers. That means devs can build it into their own applications, enabling you to sign into them without a password and pay for goods using Android Pay.

Android Marshmallow voice controls

Android 6.0 opens the way for improved voice control features thanks to the new Voice Interaction API, which will enable app developers to build voice control directly into their apps.
This means owners of Android Marshmallow devices will soon be able to speak to their apps – and the apps will even talk back.
One of the examples Google has detailed is the TuneIn app. A user can say "OK Google, listen to music on TuneIn", and the TuneIn app will not only load, but will then ask "What genre of music would you like to listen to?".
The user can then reply with their favourite genre. This natural way of speaking to our smartphone and the apps installed on it could revolutionise the way we interact with our devices.
Google has released a video to demonstrate the potential of Voice Interaction API, which you can view below.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW1A4XFRuyc&feature=youtu.be

Android Marshmallow battery life

Google has done a lot of work in the areas of battery life and power in Android Marshmallow, which will be music to many users' ears.
First up Google has developed the Doze feature. Your device will use motion sensors to detect when it hasn't been moved for an extended period of time, and will switch to a deeper sleep mode that consumes much less power.
Android Doze
Your device won't be completely useless in this mode, however, as Doze still allows for alarms to go off and key notifications to come through.
Google says it took two Nexus 9 tablets, one running Lollipop and the other Android Marshmallow, loaded the same apps and settings on both, and then tested the standby power drain on the two.
Apparently, the Nexus 9 running Android Marshmallow lasted up to two times longer than its Lollipop counterpart. It sounds impressive, and we're hoping it translates to noticeably better battery life for our devices.

Android Marshmallow Now on Tap

Android Marshmallow
With Android Marshmallow comes an intelligent new assistant feature called Now on Tap. An enhancement to Google Now, Now on Tap enables users to access information anywhere on their Android Marshmallow device, no matter what they're doing.
Users can simply tap and hold the home button to pull up a query without leaving the app or website they're in. If a friend emails you about seeing a movie, for example, Now on Tap could pull up info such as ratings or the trailer, or even enable you to buy tickets.
Android Marshmallow
You can also look at other apps on your phone, like Yelp or OpenTable, to book a dinner reservation or read reviews about a restaurant a friend has suggested.
And Now on Tap isn't just for basic info – you can also use voice searches for more specific queries, such as finding out who sings a particular song.

Android Marshmallow permissions

Android Marshmallow release date
App permissions are more intuitive in Marshmallow, giving users the option to allow or deny specific permissions within an app, rather than having to accept all permissions at once.
Currently you have to accept permissions when you download an app, but with Android Marshmallow you won't be asked to grant access to features until you come to use them for the first time in the app.
Android Marshmallow
That means, for example, that you can give WhatsApp access to your camera, but not to your microphone if you wish. You can even revoke access for a particular permission by diving into the settings if you've accidentally allowed it.

More new features on Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Android Marshmallow
Google has simplified volume controls once again with the Android Marshmallow update, with more granular control over the various audio settings on your device, from ringtones and alarms to music playback and voice calls.
Word selection has been made easier too, with Android Marshmallow highlighting text more intuitively, and a floating menu offers controls such as cut, copy and paste at your fingertips, rather than in the toolbar at the top of the display.
Fire up the Chrome web browser on Android Marshmallow and you'll benefit from Chrome Custom Tabs, which enables websites to customize the toolbar and menu of the Chrome tab to provide dedicated buttons and options.
An example shown on stage at Google IO was Pinterest, which was able to add a 'Pin' button to the toolbar on certain pages.
App linking has been vastly improved in Android Marshmallow, with Google's software now more adept at working out whether a link should be opened in a browser or a compatible app. That means fewer 'Open with' pop up boxes flashing up on screen and generally getting in the way.
Now it's just a case of sitting back and waiting for your device to get the Android 6.0 upgrade.

Read More ...

Available Tags:Microsoft , Windows , LG , Google , smartphone , Mac , Apple , tablet , Twitter , Panasonic , Android

No comments: